by Chris Harnick | Mon., Nov. 3, 2014 6:30 AM
This is The Comeback's comeback.
Almost 10 years after it first premiered—and was subsequently canceled—we're getting another season of The Comeback. Are audiences finally ready to appreciate the genius it is?
Lisa Kudrow returns to the desperate and deliciously entertaining character of Valerie Cherish, a former sitcom star who turned to reality TV (and a new sitcom) in 2005 for a comeback. The first season of the HBO series was all "raw footage" of her reality show and was considered ahead of its time, and rightfully so. Its humor was biting and its commentary was pointed.
This time around, crews are filming Val for behind-the-scenes content for her new gig: Playing a fictionalized version of herself on a new HBO series about behind-the-scenes drama on her old sitcom, Room and Bored. She's gotten the old gang back together—Mickey (Robert Michael Morris), her trusted hair stylist and favorite
gay guy and Jane (Laura Silverman), her producer who has since gone on to bigger things…only to find herself trailing Valerie once again. The HBO dramedy, Seeing Red, hails from Paulie G. (Lance Barber), Valerie's former boss and tormentor on Room and Bored. It's revealed that during the first season he was addicted to heroin. Seth Rogen plays himself playing the fictionalized version of Paulie G. in Seeing Red, and he may be one of the only characters to truly understand Valerie Cherish as viewers do. Who would've thought a scene involving simulating a blowjob could be so sweet?
When Kudrow—who won an Emmy for Friends and was nominated for the first season of The Comeback—slips on the red wig, she disappears into the character of Valerie Cherish. And that's a good thing. Valerie feels real, you probably know people who have some of the same characteristics, for better or for worse. She's wild in all the right ways to make you cringe, laugh and even garners sympathy as the readheaded actress who puts herself through so much for just a little taste of the spotlight. The 10 years between the first and second series seem like nothing, Kudrow is just that good at being Valerie Cherish and we're all the more lucky for that.
Valerie Cherish and Kudrow's performance are perhaps two of the most brilliant things to grace TVs…ever. It seems effortless, but you can tell everything is planned, even Val's incessant chatter while getting ready to read a monologue. This show is a classic in the making.
Sure, The Comeback's comeback features a few bits that seem like a greatest hits tour, but that's because the character of Valerie Cherish is just so…Valerie Cherish. There hasn't been a character as simply nuanced as Val on TV in a long time…and it's safe to say we'll never get another one like her. This season, there are plenty of new misadventures for Valerie to get into: police activity, improv classes, a New York Times profile. The Comeback's return truly proves "The more things change, the more things stay the same." The series is still a pointed critique of Hollywood, perhaps now more relevant than ever in the social media obsessed culture where everybody is hungry for the spotlight. The Comeback acknowledges just how much TV has changed with a smart scene involving Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump and later Andy Cohen.
Valerie Cherish is the star here, but without the support of her pitch-perfect team, The Comeback would be sorely missing some goods. Morris as Mickey is perhaps one of the best supporting characters on TV. He nails every line or look effortlessly. Silverman's Jane and her spider-eyed scowl are perfect. It's hard to think about The Comeback without either of them. And Damian Young as Mark, Val's husband, is the exhausted audience who's along for the ride, basically the Greek chorus. Each character serves a purpose in the journey of Valerie Cherish and The Comeback.
If this is the last time we see Valerie Cherish, it'll be a shame. But based on the first five episodes of the eight-episode series return, she'll be remembered for a long time.
Long live Valerie Cherish.
The Comeback's long-awaited second season premieres Sunday, Nov. 9 at 10 p.m. on HBO.
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